Brakes put on one-man mini-crime spree
by Stephen Geffon
May 19, 2009 | 678 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A one-man mini-crime spree of car break-ins in Old Howard Beach was brought to a screeching halt last week with the arrest of the alleged perpetrator, who was caught by police in a sting operation as he was stealing a cell phone from a bait car. The rash of auto break-ins occurred on 102nd Street and 103rd Street by Coleman Square.

Captain Joseph Courtesis, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, told members of the precinct's Community Council at their meeting last week in Ozone Park that the perpetrator, who he said had a long record of arrests for breaking into cars and stealing valuables, only recently moved into Hamilton Beach. Courtesis said that with the cooperation of the Queens District Attorney's Office, the alleged culprit was held on $10,000 bail and is still in jail.

According to the captain, car break-ins have significantly decreased since the suspect was apprehended. Even so, Courtesis told the audience that although one alleged perpetrator is currently in custody, others have apparently moved into the area noting that last weekend three car windows were broken on 103rd Street in one day. The captain said the precinct's Conditions Unit, as well as additional precinct resources, would be put into the area.

Day laborers congregating on Liberty Avenue and 88th Street roaming around the area and causing problems was a complaint voiced by many residents at the meeting.

"It's a big problem," agreed Courtesis, “but we absolutely address day laborers."

Police cannot arrest day laborers for just loitering unless it is loitering for gambling or loitering for drug use under a United States Supreme Court decision ruling the New York State loitering law unconstitutional. Day laborers can, however, be cited for disorderly conduct for harassing passersby or blocking traffic.

Courtesis said precinct officers have issued the most quality of life summonses in the precinct at Liberty Avenue and 88th Street in connection with violations of the law by day laborers. He added that day laborers that could not produce identification have been arrested and brought into the precinct.

A suggestion was made by a resident that there should be a central meeting place for day laborers to assemble and meet the prospective employers. Courtesis said the suggestion should be looked into.

Noise pollution was a complaint raised by a resident who said that she can't come home and enjoy a quiet evening with the loud music blaring. Frank Dardani, president of the council, said Courtesis has many noise abatement efforts in place to give residents a quiet summer.

According to Dardani, during the period of April to September 2007 there were more than 3,000 excessive noise complaints made to the precinct. For the same period in 2008, the complaints dropped to 2,500.

Dardani commended Courtesis and his officers for the effort they made that resulted in a decline in noise complaints and a quieter summer for community residents.

Dardani reminded residents that sound permits issued by the precinct this year for block parties and similar events will not be valid after 7 p.m., while streets closed by a street activity permit for any block party must be reopened to traffic no later than 9 p.m.

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